George Galloway took to the stage last night (Friday night) to relaunch his Respect party in Newham and try to force a local election after the council rejected plans for a so-called “mega mosque”.
The former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, who is now the MP for Bradford, said he believed Newham is ready for a political revival after councillors voted against a planning application for a mosque holding more than 9,000 people in Canning Town, run by followers of the controversial Tablighi Jamaat movement.
More than 50 people turned out last night for the public meeting in Plaistow which also saw Lee Jasper, a former advisor to previous London Mayor Ken Livingstone, and Yvonne Ridley, a war correspondent who converted to Islam after being captured by the Taliban, take to the stage.
Dressed all in black Mr Galloway told people gathered inside Harold Road Centre, off Green Street, that he would send one of his top people to challenge Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales’ leadership in Newham at the next local election. He did not rule out that he might take on the challenge himself.
Mr Galloway said: “Newham is ready for a political revival and as far as we’re concerned it begins here tonight. We know there is something rotten in this borough. New Labour has far too much power for the good of the borough.”
He then hit out at the councillors decision to reject the mosque. He said: “It’s a big mosque because a lot of people want to pray to the almighty. What is wrong with praying?”
“There are 90,000 Muslims voters in Newham as Labour is going to find out at the next local election. And they have all just got a slap in the face by their own leadership.”
He asked the audience if they thought the council would have turned down plans for a Catholic church or Jewish synagogue. “They did it because the people involved are Muslims. And because they thought they could get away with it,” he said
And he warned New Labour they could suffer the same faith as in Tower Hamlets where he defeated their MP Oona King in 2005.
He branded the decision to reject the mosque an insult to Muslims in Newham.
“We can’t take the decision on the mosque lying down. All my experience in Bradford and Tower Hamlets tells me that if you fail first time try again. The leadership in Newham must be changed.”
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria today told non-Muslims who insist on using the word “Allah” to refer to their Gods to convert to Islam if they refused to accept that the word belongs only to Muslims.
The controversial cleric also accused the Christians community of intentionally provoking Muslims by pressing on with their demand to use “Allah” in their holy book.
“The matter is already in the (Islamic) enactments of every state, they’re provoking Muslims on purpose so Muslims will melatah (over-react),” Harussani (picture) told The Malaysian Insider here. “Christians should not interfere with Islam, they’d be better off taking care of their own religion. If they want to use Allah, convert into Islam.”
The DAP secretary-general triggered uproar when he urged the federal government to allow the use of the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Christian Bible. He pointed out that this has been allowed in Sabah and Sarawak for the last 50 years and practised in the Middle East for more than a thousand years.
Harussani reiterated today that the name should be exclusive to Islam
Malaysian Gurdwara Council (MGC) said yesterday that it is unconstitutional to ban anyone from using the word “Allah”, insisting that the National Fatwa Council’s 2010 edict on the word could not apply to non-Muslims. In a statement, MGC president Jagir Singh pointed out that the council does not have direct jurisdiction over non-Muslims and could not issue fatwas to bar the community from using a specific word.
But DAP chairman Karpal Singh came out to defend his party comrade, reminding Muslims that those of other faiths apart from Christianity also use the word “Allah”. As an example, Karpal said that the word “Allah” appears 37 times in the Sikh bible
...the Catholic Church still barred from publishing the word in its weekly newspaper, despite winning a High Court decision on December 31, 2009.
Scrap Draft US Army Manual that Appeases Islamic Doctrine
US Army troops mourn loss of comrade in Afghanistan
We have written about the dangers of delusional political correctness intruding on conduct of alleged counter-insurgency doctrine in Afghanistan. We have thought that the so-called Human Terrain Studies, promoted by defamed former CENTCOMM Commander and ex-CIA Chief Gen. Petraeus, with its appeasing of Islamic culture would only hobble US operations in the faltering war in Afghanistan. In fact it also violates the field commanders’ first priority, which is force protection, and verges on gross negligence, as argued by Stephen Coughlin, Army Reserve Major and former Pentagon Consultant on Jihad war doctrine. You would have thought the spike in murderous green- on- blue attacks against US and Coalition ISAF forces by Afghan security personnel, the US Army’s Combined Arms Command, Army Lessons Learned Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas would have gotten the message that Coughlin and others have warned about. Apparently not.
A December 11, 2012 Wall Street Journal article “Draft Army Handbook Wades Into Divisive Afghan Issue” illustrated the Orwellian myopia of US military minds in facing the realities on the ground in Afghanistan contending with a seventh century Islamic barbarism by Afghan 'allies' that has taken American and coalition forces' lives. The draft Army manual is entitled, "Insider Threats – Afghanistan: Observations, Insights, and Lessons."The WSJ author of the article, Dion Nissenbaum noted the dangerous doctrine that has placed our troops in harm’s way:
Green-on-blue incidents provoke a crisis of confidence and trust among [coalition forces] working with [Afghan troops]. As a means of illuminating this insider threat, those [coalition] personnel working on Security Force Assistance Teams during 2012 that live alongside and mentor [Afghan security forces] have about 200 times the risk of being murdered by an [Afghan security force] member than a U.S. police officer has of being murdered in the line of duty by a perpetrator.
[ . . .]
"Many of the confrontations occur because of [coalition] ignorance of, or lack of empathy for, Muslim and/or Afghan cultural norms, resulting in a violent reaction from the [Afghan security force] member," according to the draft handbook prepared by Army researchers.
[. . .]
Last year, the U.S.-led coalition rejected an internal military study that concluded that cultural insensitivity was in part to blame for insider killings, which it called a growing threat that represented "a severe and rapidly metastasizing malignancy" for the coalition in Afghanistan.
The study was reported last year by The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. military at the time said the study was flawed by "unprofessional rhetoric and sensationalism."
The 2011 report—"A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility"—is now a centerpiece of the draft handbook's advice to soldiers heading to Afghanistan, and it is listed under the draft's references and recommended reading.
Our colleague Hugh Fitzgerald commented in an Iconoclast post on the WSJ article:
Violent, erratic, meretricious, grasping, oily -- these are some of the adjectives that Americans who have lived in Afghanistan may reach for in attempting to describe the locals. But they can't quite convey, for those who have not been, just how awful so many of those locals turned out to be, nor can they themselves always connect the attitudes and behavior of Afghans with the mental and emotional substrate of Islam.
The Washington Times (WT) this New Year’s weekend published what one commentator called “a concise and thoughtful criticism of this myopic Army Manual. The WT op ed, authored by former Commander of the US Pacific Fleet (CINPAC), ret. Admiral James A. Lyons, is entitled, “Draft of new U.S. Army handbook must be scrapped”. Former CINPAC Commander Adm. Lyons has in the opinion of this former US Army intelligence officer nailed it.
After the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the erosion of our military’s moral principles, regretfully, continues.
A recent Wall Street Journal article described the U.S. Army’s final-draft handbook, which indoctrinates our military personnel heading to Afghanistan in how to be sensitive to and accept Muslim and Afghan 7th-century customs and values — or possibly be killed by our Afghan partners.
Unbelievable. This is being done to prevent the so-called “green-on-blue” attacks, which have cost 63 American lives this year.
According to the Army’s Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, Kan., it is our military’s ignorance and lack of empathy for Muslim and Afghan cultural norms that is the basic cause for our Afghan military partners to react violently and kill our troops.
For example, if our military personnel hear or witness an Afghan soldier sodomizing a young boy, the handbook tells U.S. service members to voice no objection accept it or ignore it, or they could be killed. If an Afghan beats rapes or kills a woman in the presence of a U.S. serviceman, they are not to interfere or stand up for women’s rights or else they might be killed.
What the Army is saying, in effect, is that if Afghan partners conduct violence against U.S. service personnel, it is the serviceman’s fault. This is mind-boggling. We know, according to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, that nine out of 10 Afghan military personnel are illiterate and cannot be counted on in combat. Endemic corruption is embedded in Afghan culture and certainly extends to their military. They cannot be trusted.
Other cultural norms our professional U.S. military must accept without reservation by our Afghan partners is desertion, drug use, thievery, dog torture and collusion with the enemy, the Taliban. Also, U.S. military members must not discuss Islam in any form.
All of this guidance is un-American. It is totally against our core principles and everything we stand for as Americans. It threatens to further diminish our military principles, stature and fighting spirit. As columnist Diana West stated in a recent article, if this handbook directive is implemented, we will be forcing our military to submit to Islam and its governing Shariah law or die — exactly the choice offered to infidels who have been vanquished by jihad. Our military’s silence and acquiescence would be the humiliating price for their existence.
This should be seen as another attempt to undercut our professional military and our warrior reputation that has guaranteed our freedom and way of life for the past 236 years.
None of this humiliating guidance should come as a surprise. The Obama administration has had a massive purge under way to remove all training manuals, lectures and instructors who link Islamic doctrine and its governing Shariah law in a factual way to Islamic terrorism. These manuals are being removed from all government agencies, including the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies. All our training manuals have been purged of the true nature of the threat from Islam and Shariah.
The degrading of our military’s fundamental principles should be viewed in a much broader perspective. We cannot overlook the fact that with or without sequestration, we are unilaterally disarming our military force. This is happening in spite of an uncertain world situation with the Mideast still in a state of turmoil and evolving threats posed by China, Russia and Iran.
Separately, we see our First Amendment rights being trashed by our secretary of state through her participation in the Istanbul Process championed by the 57-member-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The OIC is sponsoring a United Nations mandate that would make it a crime to express anything they consider blasphemous against Islam or the Prophet Muhammad. This same theme was expressed by President Obama in his September speech to the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
If these attacks on America’s exceptionalism and core principles are collectively analyzed, it appears that there is an insidious agenda at work to fundamentally change America. All of these negative factors must be challenged and defeated.
As a first step, the Army’s draft handbook should be trashed. Second, Congress must take positive action to protect our First Amendment rights and force the Obama administration to withdraw from any further participation in the Istanbul Process. Third, the unilateral disarmament of our military must be reversed. It’s time for members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take a position that supports the oath they took to protect and defend our Constitution.
Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.
Why Should Western Taxpayers Help The Muslim Brotherhood?
From BBC News:
Egypt to resume IMF loan talks as reserves dwindle
An Egyptian trader at the Cairo stock exchange watches market movements
Egypt will soon resume talks with the International Monetary Fund over a crucial $4.8bn (£3bn) loan to shore up the economy, the prime minister says.
Talks were suspended because of political turmoil over a new constitution.
PM Hisham Kandil was speaking as the Egyptian pound reportedly fell to a record low against the US dollar.
The central bank said the country's foreign reserves have dropped to "critical" levels.
Talks with the IMF were derailed amid large rallies organised by opponents of President Mohammed Morsi and his largely Islamist supporters, some of which turned violent. The constitution was approved by a referendum last week.
"We hope that there will not be any fundamental changes in our plan with the IMF because we will summon them in January so we resume discussions to go forward in the matter of the loan," Mr Kandil said.
Egypt is grappling with a crippling budget deficit and dwindling foreign reserves. The central bank has spent more than $20bn in foreign reserves to support the pound since a revolution against former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
The Egyptian pound hit a new low on Sunday of about 6.30 to the US dollar in unofficial trading after the central bank introduced a new currency regime, dealers told Reuters. The previous low for the pound was in October 2004 and was about 6.26 to the dollar.
Over the weekend, the central bank announced regular currency auctions, with the bank offering $75m at the maiden auction on Sunday.
The auctions are meant to slow the depletion of the country's foreign reserves.
The central bank also forbid corporate clients from withdrawing more than $30,000 in cash per day and announced it would charge individuals who buy foreign currencies an administrative fee of 1-2%, bankers said.
On Saturday, the central bank said its reserves, which stood at about $15bn at the end of November, had fallen to a critical level.
On 3 December the liberal British newspaper, the Guardian, reported the apology issued to the world by a large British bank that collapsed during the financial crisis to the development of which its own conduct had made its own contribution.
James Crosby, the chief executive, admitted that the collapse of the bank was caused by incompetence, not least his own; but there were clearly limits to his sense of guilt for it has not so far caused him to repudiate his $800,000 a year pension; and no doubt he would justify this limited reach of his conscience by pointing out that ruining a bank is actually very hard work, which only a small elite are able to perform. No one ever suggested that he was lazy; indeed, he probably worked labored mightily, even at breakfast, for many years. Would that he hadn’t.
To everyone outside the charmed circle of fantastically-rewarded bank-wreckers, however, this looks suspiciously like an example of market failure. Surely, capitalism is supposed to reward success and penalize failure, financially if not judicially? For 99.99 per cent of the population, a pension of $800,000 a year would appear like a handsome reward. But the case of James Crosby, who ought in justice to be living on bread and water for the rest of his life unless he takes up employment as, say, an office cleaner, and who is by no means a unique or even the worst example of the incompetent with a Midas touch where his own affairs are concerned, will strengthen the arguments of those who are viscerally hostile to capitalism, even while they ignore the looting of the public purse by rent-seeking public sector workers. For if Mr Crosby is not a failure, who is a failure? In fact, a general decline in probity and belief in the possibility of real economic enterprise has led to rent-seeking behavior of a similar nature in both the private and public sectors, with the tax-payer and the shareholder having their funds appropriated by people in a position to do so. At the same time, and not coincidentally, the mutual dependence of the public and private sector has led to a blurring of honest and dishonest conduct. Equivocation is now the norm.
The Guardian report on the Crosby case had a revealing short paragraph:
Crosby said he was “horrified and deeply upset by what happened” in 2008, when Lloyds [Bank] was forced to rescue HBOS and the enlarged bank had to be rescued with $32 billion of taxpayers’ cash.
Note ‘what had happened’ rather than ‘the results of what I and my cronies did.’ I was reminded of a man who stabbed his friend to death, and forever afterwards said ‘when he [his friend] met with his accident.’
Furthermore, we may ask who or what was the force that forced Lloyds Bank to rescue HBOS, and what kind of rescue it was that so soon required that the rescuer itself be rescued, this time with taxpayers’ cash – or rather, cash borrowed on the taxpayers’ behalf but without their consent, cash that was itself conjured out of thin air because the taxpayer actually has no cash in hand, only liabilities: the taxpayers’ intermediary or supposed agent, the government, being effectually bankrupt already even without the creation of the extra $32 billion of debt to fund the rescue of the rescuer.
The rescuer was, apparently, leaned on by the government (in effect an electoral dictatorship which can always find ways to make life difficult for the recalcitrant) to take over HBOS without knowing the extent of its bad debts. It had been, until then, a viable bank, even if it was not without one or two skeletons in its cupboard; and thus two banks were ruined for the price of one. Whether this was a better solution for the economy, taken in the round, than allowing only one bank to collapse is a matter of opinion; certainly the shareholders in Lloyds Bank, until then thought of as a blue chip company, would not have thought so. Indeed, they would have felt as if they had been expropriated without compensation.
The next question is why a bank of the size of HBOS was permitted to lend so incontinently. After all, the government had both the time and the inclination to regulate practically everything else, from the size of airbags in cars to the amount of time spent on arithmetic in schools.
As it happens, HBOS was not the only bank to lend in so incontinent a fashion: many others did so. Mr Crosby may have been incompetent, but it was a kind of incompetence of which the government clearly approved and encouraged. It suited its electoral purposes: for the illusory prosperity created by cheap credit and asset inflation was for it better than the veridical economic stagnation that would have been evident without it.
The tax revenue on illusory economic activity funded by debt permitted the government to increase its expenditure and thus its powers of control and patronage without appearing unduly to increase the national debt or its budgetary deficit. When the music stopped, however, and banks like HBOS collapsed, the government was left with giant wage bills and pension obligations – for that is what the increased revenues were used to find – and fewer taxes to pay them with. This is a problem that has not gone away five years later. The obligations cannot be met without further indebtedness.
No doubt Mr Crosby, at the peak of his incompetence, thought that he was one of the masters of the universe, a man of destiny. In fact he was a licensed trader, a pawn of the government, and his real function was to deceive the electorate as to the true economic state of the country, albeit by making it much worse in the long run. For this signal service to the government of his day he was highly, even grotesquely, rewarded.
As for the government of his day, it took its fundamental political principle from the ancien régime (as, seemingly, do all governments in modern democracies), that principle being après nous, le déluge.
A French weekly known for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to the ire of conservative Muslims said Sunday it plans to release a comic book biography of Islam's founder that will be researched and educational.
It is a biography authorised by Islam since it was edited by Muslims," said Charlie Hebdo's publisher and the comic's illustrator, who goes by the name Charb.
"I don't think higher Muslim minds could find anything inappropriate," Charb said. The biography will be published Wednesday and was put together by a Franco-Tunisian researcher known only as Zineb, Charb said.
The publisher said the idea for the comic book came to him in 2006 when a newspaper in Denmark published cartoons of Mohammed, later republished by Charlie Hebdo, drawing angry protests across the Muslim world.
"Before having a laugh about a character, it's better to know him. As much as we know about the life of Jesus, we know nothing about Mohammed," Charb said.
Charb, who has received death threats, lives under police protection
A Pakistani paramilitary soldier stands guard at the site of the bus bombing in Balochistan on December 30.
December 30, 2012
At least 19 people were killed in southern Pakistan in a bombing that targeted buses carrying Shi'ite pilgrims.
A car bomb was detonated near a three-bus convoy of pilgrims traveling under security escort through Balochistan Province's Mastung district.
An additional 25 people were injured in the blast, including two officers in an escort vehicle.
Early reports were unclear whether the bomb was detonated by remote control. But Muhammad Hashim, a provincial security official, told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal the blast was the result of a suicide bomber.
"The bus was on its way from Quetta to Taftan," Hashim added. "Two vehicles of our security forces were escorting them."
Taftan, in Iran, is a popular destination for Shi'ite Muslims.
Shi'a have been a frequent target of attacks in Balochistan, where radical Sunni groups linked to Islamist insurgents have been blamed for waging violent campaigns.
There have been numerous attacks on minority Shi'a in the Mastung district alone.
Survivors of the blast were returned to the provincial capital, Quetta, after the incident.
On the eve of the January 22, 2013 Israeli election, the Israeli public demonstrates more realism than its politicians. Israelis highlight security imperatives when responding to reality-driven polls, which pose questions based on the stormy Arab Winter and not on the mirage of the Arab Spring.
Increasingly, Israelis recognize that — in the Middle East — bolstered security constitutes a solid base for survival and for the pursuit of peace. They realize that the pursuit of peace, by lowering the threshold of security, could jeopardize survival, as well as the slim chance for peace.
Notwithstanding the overwhelmingly dovish Israeli media and academia, most Israelis — Right, Center and Left — have concluded that security-driven peace supersedes peace-driven security.
In December 2012, a most thorough and detailed poll was conducted by one of the deans of Israeli pollsters, Mina Tzemach, on behalf of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The poll demonstrates that Israelis respond to real local and regional developments — more than to wishful thinking — when shaping positions on the peace process, security requirements, land for peace, the two-state-solution and Iran.
Such positions are directly impacted by the 20-year track record of the 1993 Oslo Accords: an unprecedented Israeli gesture met by unprecedented Palestinian hate education, terrorism and noncompliance. Israeli opinions are also influenced by the current turbulence, unpredictability, unreliability, treachery and instability on the Arab street. The Israeli state of mind is also shaped by the violent Palestinian response (thousands of missiles launched at Israel) to the 2005 Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip — a tormenting, painful concession of uprooting 25 thriving Jewish communities.
According to the December Mina Tzemach (Dahaf Polling Institute) poll, most Israelis assume that Palestinians are concerned about the existence — and not the size — of Israel, and therefore are very skeptical about the land-for-peace formula. Most Israelis do not trust Palestinian compliance with agreements, and therefore are dubious about the two-state solution, which they increasingly consider a two-state delusion.
For instance, 76% (83% among Israeli Jews) believe that an Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 sliver along the Mediterranean would not satisfy the Palestinians or other Arabs. Only 22% (15% among Israeli Jews) assume that such a concession would produce an end to the conflict. About 74% of Israelis are convinced that strategic depth — a code word for Judea and Samaria — is pertinent to Israel’s national security. Only 21% discount the importance of strategic depth. Fully 66% disapprove (and 29% approve) a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines in return for a peace accord with the Palestinians and all Arab countries. About 63% are against a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines with minor modifications.
A ratio of 65:33 opposes the repartitioning of Jerusalem in the context of a peace accord; 65:31 reject a withdrawal from the Jordan Valley; 68:28 refuse evacuation of Ariel and western Samaria; 72:22 insist on retaining control over the blocs of Jewish settlements; 73:18 disapprove relinquishing control over the Judea and Samaria mountains that dominate Ben-Gurion International Airport; 67:22 insist that Israel retains control of Highway 443, which connects Jerusalem to the coastal plain via the West Bank.
Only 20% of the Israeli public assumes that the recent developments on the Arab street are irrelevant to the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Only 21% maintains that these events warrant an acceleration of the peace process.
About 52% — compared with 49% in 2005 — consider secure boundaries superior to peace[Ettinger should have written: "to a peace treaty with Muslim Arabs"], compared with 36% who view peace [and here he should have written: "view such a peace treaty with Muslim Arabs"] as the prerequisite to security.
Most Israelis trust only the Israel Defense Forces to protect the country. For example, only 39% assume that Israel can rely on the U.S. military during an emergency. About 68% oppose the stationing of foreign troops — including U.S. troops — in the Jordan Valley. Only 26% would support such a deployment.
About 68% do not believe that sanctions constitute an effective option against Iran; 53% presume that the U.S. will not resort to the military option to prevent Iran’s nuclearization; 53% support an Israeli military pre-emption against Iran if the U.S. fails to pre-empt.
This most comprehensive Mina Tzemach poll highlights the Israeli public as top heavy on realism and low on wishful-thinking. Most Israelis do not indulge in the New Middle East Delusion, March of Democracy or the Facebook and Youth Revolution; they brace themselves for the Real Middle East and its clear and present threats. It is a rare state of mind among Western democracies, enhancing Israel’s power-projection and Israel’s role as the beachhead of the Free World in the economically and militarily critical Middle East. It is a source of optimism.
Regular followers of RealClimate will be aware of our publication in 2009 in Nature, showing that West Antarctica — the part of the Antarctic ice sheet that is currently contributing the most to sea level rise, and which has the potential to become unstable and contribute a lot more (3 meters!) to sea level rise in the future — has been warming up for the last 50 years or so.
Our paper was met with a lot of skepticism, and not just from the usual suspects. A lot of our fellow scientists, it seems, had trouble getting over their long-held view (based only on absence of evidence) that the only place in Antarctica that was warming up was the Antarctica Peninsula. To be fair, our analysis was based on interpolation, using statistics to fill in data where it was absent, so we really hadn’t proven anything; we’d only done an analysis that pointed (strongly!) in a particular direction.
A Heedless Call To TakeThe Side Favored By Al-Qaradawi And Al-Qaeda
And to do so so as to rescue that fiction, "the Syrian people" (as much a fiction as "the Iraqi people"), which Syrian people, or at least every minority group, favors the regime and is terrified of a rebel victory, and even half the Sunni Muslims in the two main cities appear, still, to be on the side of the regime. And that means that a majority of that soi-disant "Syrian people" support the regime.
But here they are, those same three enthusiasts for America taking the side of "freedom" in Iraq, and then in Libya, and then wherever else in those lands where Americans might bring "freedom" which, in the Western sense, is neither desired nor even comprehended by those who might oppose, for other reasons, the local despot.
Syria’s descent into hell
By John McCain, Joseph I. Lieberman and and Lindsey O. Graham, December 30
John McCain and Lindsey O. Graham, both Republicans, represent Arizona and South Carolina in the Senate, respectively. Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent, represents Connecticut in the Senate.
As 2012 draws to a close, Syria is descending into hell. At least 40,000 people, and likely many more, have been killed, while millions have been forced to flee their homes. Over the past 12 months, Bashar al-Assad has steadily unleashed ever-greater military firepower in response to what began as peaceful protests by the Syrian people. Starting with tanks and heavy artillery in February, the Syrian regime escalated over the summer to using attack helicopters and fighter jets. In recent weeks, it has begun firing Scud missiles at its own population.
The world has failed to stop this slaughter. President Obama has declared that his “red line” is Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Many Syrians, however, have told us that they see the U.S. red line as a green light for Assad to use all other weapons of war to massacre them with impunity. Many of those weapons continue to be supplied directly by Iran.
Despite the U.S. government’s warnings, Assad has reportedly taken steps in recent weeks to prepare chemical weapons for use against his people. From everything we know about Assad’s regime, and considering that he has methodically escalated this conflict using nearly every other weapon in his inventory, does anyone really believe that this man is incapable of using chemical weapons?
Syria’s descent into hell poses an increasing threat to its neighbors. Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Israel all face rising risks of instability. The longer this war grinds on, the greater the chance it could ignite a wider sectarian conflict.
For months we have argued — including on this page — that the United States, together with our allies in Europe and the Middle East, must do more to stop the killing in Syria and to provide help to moderate forces among the opposition. Specifically, we have advocated providing weapons directly to vetted rebel groups and establishing a no-fly zone over part of Syria. Neither course would require putting U.S. troops on the ground or acting alone. Key allies have made clear again and again their hope for stronger American leadership and their frustration that the United States has been sitting on the sidelines.
Most distressing of all are the swiftly deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Syria. While rejecting calls to provide weapons or establish a limited no-fly zone, the Obama administration has emphasized the aid that it has committed to the Syrian people. We fear, however, that those efforts are also failing.
According to U.S. and European officials and experts, as much as 70 percent of the foreign assistance being sent to Syria ends up in regime-controlled areas. Recent visitors to Aleppo have told us they saw no sign of U.S. aid there, nor were local Syrians aware of any American assistance. As a result, people in the opposition-held north of Syria are starving, freezing and dying from disease because of shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies.
This failure to get American humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people has not only worsened the humanitarian crisis but has also created opportunities for extremist groups to provide relief services and thereby win even greater support from the Syrian people. To many, these extremists appear to be the only ones stepping in to help Syrians in the fight. Meanwhile, moderates in the Syrian opposition are being discredited and undercut by our lack of support — including the newly established Syrian opposition coalition, whose formation last month was made possible in part by U.S. diplomacy.
While recent regime defections and battlefield setbacks suggest that Assad’s hold on power is deteriorating, this conflict could grind on for some time, at an awful and escalating cost to Syria’s people, its neighbors and U.S. interests and prestige. It is not too late to avert a strategic and moral calamity in Syria, but doing so requires bold and decisive U.S. leadership that needs to come directly from President Obama.
The United States must rally our allies to channel assistance to the newly established Syrian opposition council for distribution in the rebel-held areas. We must provide weapons and other lethal assistance to the opposition military command. And we must impose a no-fly zone in some areas of Syria, to include using the U.S. Patriot missile batteries en route to Turkey, to protect people in northern Syria from Assad’s aerial attacks.
If we remain on the current course, future historians are likely to record the slaughter of innocent Syrians, and the resulting harm done to America’s national interests and moral standing, as a shameful failure of U.S. leadership and one of the darker chapters in our history. That should unsettle us all as we pray for peace and goodwill this holiday season.
Naftali Bennett catches a wave in Israelâ€™s January 2013 Knesset Elections
Naftali Bennett of Jeiwsh Home Party
in January 2013 Knesset Election
In a recent Iconoclast post we noted the rise of Naftali Bennett and the revitalized National Religious Party:
A revitalized National Religious [Zionist] Party (Habayit Hayehudi- Jewish Home) led by Naftali Bennett with right wing secular allies has entered the electoral fray challenging Netanyahu. Habayit Hayehudi called for annexation of 60% of the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria (Area C). Habayit Hayehudi zoomed to third place in polls possibly closing in on Labor in second position.
Bennett is the 40 year old son of American olim (immigrants) from the San Francisco Bay Area who moved to Israel in 1967. He served as a member of an elite IDF Sayeret Matkal (Commando) group and is an IDF Reserve Major. Like the younger generation of successful Israelis he became a technology entrepreneur who founded and sold a banking security software company for $145 million in 2005. He and his family are residents of Ra’anana, an American style suburb north of Tel Aviv. From 2006 to 2008 he was chief of staff to Benjamin Netanyahu when he was leader of the opposition. He became head of the Yesha Council representing the settler movement in Judea and Samaria from January 2010 to January 2012. Polls show the Jewish Home party under Bennett possibly picking up between 11 to 13 seats in the January 22, 2013 Knesset election. His stated objective is to serve in a possible Netanyahu cabinet as Housing Minister replacing the Shas orthodox list.
Bennett’s rise in Knesset election polls has caught a wave of interest in both Israel and the mainstream media in the US and aboard. That was signified by articles on him that appeared this week in The Daily Beast,The New York Times and AFP.
Ted Belman of Israpundit drew attention in a blog post to an article in the Israeli left wing publication +972 (the area code for Judea and Samaria) that designated the settler movement as their’ Person of The Year’. +972 had this to say about the Bennett ‘phenomenon’:
The traditional focus on the center seems somewhat irrelevant, as a new role model of the Israeli Sabra emerges in figures like Bennett, who has been receiving quite a bit of publicity lately, including a feature in the New York Times. . . .Bennett, the Zionist patriot, recently said in a television interview that as an army reserve officer he would refuse orders to evacuate settlements. Refusing orders has long been a red line that few dared to cross; politicizing one’s army service was considered a taboo in mainstream Israeli society that many thought made one unelectable.
Mr. Stern of the Israel Democracy Institute said that while Mr. Bennett tries to convince voters that they can vote Jewish Home for identity reasons without threatening Mr. Netanyahu’s re-election, the prime minister is making the opposite case: that Mr. Bennett is an extremist and not a reliable partner. Hence, days of headlines filled with the refusal spat.
“Our biggest problem before this was name recognition,” said a top Jewish Home figure, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of seeming to make light of a serious issue. Mr. Netanyahu, he added, “fixed that for us.”
Bennett’s Stability lnitiative entails annexation of Area C which he estimates at 350,000 Jewish Israeli residents and 48,000 Palestinians. The proposal would give the option to the minority Palestinians in Area C to become Israel citizens, akin to that offered to Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Increasingly Palestinians in East Jerusalem have elected to seek Israeli citizenship. This has given rise to what Ha’aretz this weekend called a “process of surprising “Israelization”. Bennett’s Stability lnitiative would assure Israel control over 50 percent of the nation’s water supply and it would provide security for the hills overlooking the Jordan Valley.
Watch this You Tube video of Bennett’s Stability Initiative:
Bigots have two things in common. First, they blame others for their own shortcomings. The Nazis, for example, believe if anything goes wrong, it must have been because a Jew was involved. If they get a flat tire, they automatically blame Jews. The Ku Klux Klan takes a more religious approach, claiming Jews killed Jesus; therefore Jews are the root of Evil. When I heard Louis Farrakhan speak in the 1980’s he pointed to me in the audience and said “Now my Jewish brothers and sisters out there, now don’t you think I’m anti-Semitic, but don’t you put your evil on me!”
That leads to the second thing bigots have in common. They claim to be better because others are worse. It is a depression mentality that some try to fix with the self-esteem movement. This leads to the new breed of Jew-hatred, the Israel boycotters, a generation of haters who, instead of being depressed, feel good about themselves while blaming Jews for their own shortcomings.
As detailed in my book Boycotting Peace(http://www.BoycottingPeace.com), the Arab boycott of Israel dates back to 1910 as a boycott of Jewish interests. The boycott is also the central theme of the Arab League, the leading pan-Arab organization that was formed to coordinate the boycott against Jews and Israel. It is also where the Nazis got the idea of boycotting Jews that later evolved into creating the Nazi concentration and death camps. There is a parallel. Two Israeli Army reservists made a wrong turn into Ramallah on October 20, 2000. Despite going to the Palestinian police compound for refuge, they were brutally murdered at the hands of the PA that is not only signatory to the boycott of Israel, but which also created the Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign against Israel. The fact is the Arab boycott of Israel and its BDS campaign subsidiary is not benevolent.
There are two types of people who join the BDS campaign against Israel. First you have the angry Marxists who just hate every capitalist society, and then you have the peace activists who will do almost anything in the name of peace. But how does this translate into Jew hatred?
The answer becomes apparent in their approach. Marxists generally stand with the communists, Trotskyites, and everyone else on the far left. One would think therefore they would stand with their Israeli Kibbutz comrades, but nothing could be further from the truth. The Marxists who join the Arab boycott / BDS campaign attack anything and everything from or related to Israel.
The same applies to the peace activists. They don’t stand with Israeli peace activists; they just boycott Israel in general. While some Israel boycotters claim they only boycott goods from certain areas of Israel, the fact is in practicality the boycott campaign does not differentiate between goods based on origin within Israel.
This brings us back to the two things racists have in common – they blame others for their own shortcomings and claim superiority because other people are worse. While the BDS crowd blames Israel for the woes of others, they also tell Israel what to do out of a sense of moral superiority based on their own self-esteem. Effectively, therefore, the Israel boycotters are by definition bigots.
Of course they will deny being bigots and then claim Zionists are the real bigots, which brings up the topic of the Arab techniques used in their boycott of Israel - the trend among Arabs is to blame Israel for their shortcomings. For example, while Jews and Christians are forbidden from entering Mecca and Medina, the BDS claim is that Arabs are discriminated against by Israel. Of course the Arabs don’t tell their BDS recruits that Arabs vote in Israel and have been in every Knesset since day one; nor do they tell their BDS recruits that Israelis can’t enter most Arab nations, nor can any Jews vote in Arab nations.
The Israel boycotters also fail to mention that Arab women can’t vote or drive under Islamic rule, yet are free to do both in Israel. The list goes on and on. Simply stated, the Arab world likes to claim Israel denies the very basic human rights the Arab world actually imposes on its own people, thus blaming Israel and Jews in general for the Arab world’s own shortcomings.
There is one truism I have learned in the fifteen years I have been studying boycotts:
It is easy to make a false claim and scream boycott in response. However, when you shine a light on the actions of the claimants, you may then be exposing the truth, including who the real bigots are.
Fred Taub is the President of Boycott Watch (http://www.BoycottWatch.com) and the author of Boycotting Peace (http://www.BoycottingPeace.com) which exposes the truth behind the Arab boycott of Israel / BDS. He is radio host, comments in the major media and his work as been cited in two cases before the United States Supreme Court.